War causes wounds and suffering that last beyond the battlefield and the goals of the Monument to Women Veterans (MWV) Women's Empowerment Center is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope and self-sufficiency to all women veterans in need, and to furnish an integrated approach to improving the quality of life for our female veterans who are suffering from PTSD, TBI and Military Sexual Trauma.
This project is focused on the physical and mental well-being for all female veterans facing a variety of transitions. It is designed as a transitional housing program that provides supportive services including job counseling; requires veterans to seek and maintain employment; requires veterans to pay reasonable rent; requires sobriety as a condition of occupancy; and, serves other female veterans in need of housing on a space available basis. The goal of this program is to help all 50 households achieve self-sufficiency and be able to pay their rent and utilities and provide the normal necessary items for a healthy life style for their family with adequate food, clothing, and shelter.
Without a stable place to live and a support system to help them address their underlying problems, most struggling female veterans bounce from one emergency system to the next—from the streets to shelters to public and VA hospitals to psychiatric institutions and detox centers and back to the streets—endlessly. The extremely high cost of this cycle of homelessness, in human and economic terms, can be seen in the lives of many people throughout the Gulf Coast.
The Empowerment Center tenants will have access to a multitude of services provided by MWV and collaborating community service providers that will include primary health services, mental health services, educational services, employment services, life skills, and child care services, if applicable. And, through clearly defined performance measures, we will be able to determine how many persons that had an unmet service need associated with a specific condition (physical disability, developmental disability, chronic health, HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse) were able to receive services for their condition by the time they exited the program.
An annual tenant survey completed by on-site staff as well as the ongoing case management of tenants assists in determining the effectiveness of programs and whether they are meeting defined benchmarks.
The Center will provide space for supportive services to be provided on-site as well as having additional office space so that the property manager could also house their staff onsite. Classes are offered on site in beginning to intermediate computers, as are educational and vocational assessment and case management services. Volunteers and other community resources also provide art therapy groups, meditation groups, and physical fitness classes.
Community-building activities are also the responsibility of the Social Services staff. These include support for a tenant’s council that is active and which meets weekly, movie nights on a donated large screen television, holiday parties & events, and group participation in cultural events in the larger community.
The ever-increasing momentum of government, corporate and philanthropic investment in supportive housing has been bolstered by research documenting its effectiveness.
In reviewing other programs, we learned that they have several outcomes they utilize to gauge their progress and success.